March 30, 2020
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Jairam Ramesh

The former Union environment minister on his book Green Signals: Ecology, Growth and Democracy in India

Jairam Ramesh
Jairam Ramesh

Is there a market for books on the environment?

Undoubtedly there is. Environmental issues are issues of livelihood security and public health.

Environment or development?

It is not either/or. A balance needs to struck. Single-minded obsession with GDP growth is dangerous.

Can environment be an election issue?

To the extent that these concerns impinge on the daily lives of people, they certainly will. But it shouldn't be viewed only through the electoral prism.

There is always a clash between habitat for endangered animals and people?

Here again, balance is the key, as is the process of resolving contradictions and conflicts.

Do people from the ruling BJP accept your line on environment?

Many actually, both in the RSS and the BJP. I will not embarrass them by taking names. Some cabinet ministers as well.

You once said that you are a climate agnostic?

That was to juxtapose myself against climate evangelists like Al Gore.

What is your book's core message?

Growth has to be rapid, inclusive and sustainable. Some trade-offs are inevitable. My book explains the approach I adopted as minister.

Do you think there is too much politics over environment?

Environment is an intensely political issue--why shouldn't it be?

Any more books?

A book on land acquisition that is coming out in April and another on Maoist violence later in the year.

Are you still friends with Jayanthi Natarajan?

What does it have to do with my book? I wish her the best.

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